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Politifact’s Big Lie: Republicans DO want to end Medicare
12:01 pm

I once had a date that went very, very poorly. Unbeknownst to me, the gorgeous, full-lipped brunette who I’d met at an art opening and who was now seated across from me, was an Ayn Rand fan and a conservative Catholic.

They didn’t have E-Harmony back then.

During the course of conversation, the woman I was having dinner and I came to quickly find that we did not agree about anything. Probably the only thing we could agree on is that we couldn’t agree on anything else. It was all downhill from the time the drinks arrived.

What really drove me nuts about her was that she constantly offered conversational rebuttals of the “well, they say that…” or “well, most critics said that…” variety. That’s so lame. Finally when the conversation reached a level of ill-will you might see on a news channel between Dana Loesch and well, anyone rational—I could take it no more. I called to her attention what I was observing, that over and over again, in the course of just a single conversation, ALL of the opinions she expressed—and which were apparently strongly held—were without exception second-hand, referring in every instance to what someone else thought. Then she would fold her arms and declare “Well, that’s what so and so says, so it must be true.” What did SHE actually think or was she simply content to be a knee-jerk parrot of the opinions of other people, I asked, fully aware I was not only jabbing in the knife, but twisting it like Freddy Kruger. The constant fallback to the great authoritative (and unnamed) “they say” was as annoying as fuck.

This is why I hate Politifact. It’s the thing that smartass Internet commenters always use as their backstop: “See? Look what Politifact had to say. Nah nah na nah nah!” You see this all over the place. References to Politifact are a blight on political blogs. As I see it, referring to Polifact in any sort of debate is an admission that your own critical thinking skills are not firing on all pistons.

Even when Politifact “agrees” with an opinion I hold, or concurs with my own take on something, I still hate Politifact because by trying to be “balanced,” they often refuse to call something for what it really is. Or else they go overboard trying to rationalize why a certain level of media hyperbole is “false” by going in the other direction to an often absurd extent.

The old adage that there are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle is simply no longer applicable in the age of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the Tea party.

And this year’s Politifact Lie of the Year got it all wrong. Wrong to the point where they didn’t just tarnish whatever reputation some people think Polifact has, they detonated it with this load of absolute shite:

Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.

Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.” […]

PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False or Pants on Fire, most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members.

Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year.

As Steven Benen writes on the Poltical Animal blog: PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself

This is simply indefensible. Claims that are factually true shouldn’t be eligible for a Lie of the Year designation.

It’s unnerving that we have to explain this again, but since PolitiFact appears to be struggling with the relevant details, let’s set the record straight.

Medicare is a single-payer health care system offering guaranteed benefits to seniors. The House Republican budget plan intended to privatize the existing system and replace it with something very different — a voucher scheme. It would still be called “Medicare,” but it wouldn’t be Medicare.

It seems foolish to have to parse the meaning of the word “end,” but if there’s a program, and it’s replaced with a different program, proponents brought an end to the original program. That’s what the verb means.

I’ve been trying to think of the best analogy for this. How about this one: imagine someone owns a Ferrari. It’s expensive and drives beautifully, and the owner desperately wants to keep his car intact. Now imagine I took the car away, removed the metallic badge off the trunk that says “Ferrari,” I stuck it on a golf cart, and I handed the owner the keys.

“Where’s my Ferrari?” the owner would ask.

“It’s right here,” I’d respond. “This has four wheels, a steering wheel, and pedals, and it says ‘Ferrari’ right there on the back.”

By PolitiFact’s reasoning, I haven’t actually replaced the car — and if you disagree, you’re a pants-on-fire liar.

Here’s how Paul Krugman put it:

Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.

The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.

How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the “Lie of the year”?

The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear “balanced” — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.

Hear, hear. Bye-bye Politifact, you have officially jumped your last credibility shark. There’s no need to pay attention to you at all anymore.

The truth is not bipartisan! It’s just not.

Posted by Richard Metzger
12:01 pm
Michele Bachmann’s fabulist life

Not content to simply um… improvise dubious (and easily verified) “facts” about American history, a few weeks ago, MN Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann also made up shit about her own family tree in an effort to appear “more Iowan” to voters in the state where she was born. Chris Rodda, author of Liars for Jesus writes at Op Ed News:

[At] the Rediscover God in America conference in Iowa, Michele Bachmann, like the other potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates who spoke at this conference, lavished praise on their fellow speaker, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton. Bachmann also revealed that her involvement in the history revisionism game goes back even further than her association with Barton. As a student at Oral Roberts University, she met John Eidsmoe, and worked as a research assistant on his 1987 book, Christianity and the Constitution. Eidsmoe is another Christian nationalist history revisionist, whose Christianity and the Constitution book predates the first edition of Barton’s book The Myth of Separation by a year. In fact, some of Barton’s lies are adaptations of Eidsmoe’s lies and half-truths, a number of which are debunked in my book. But I had no idea that Bachmann had been involved with Eidsmoe or his book until she talked about it at the Rediscover God in America conference, or that it was Eidsmoe who introduced her to Barton’s material.

But Bachmann’s admiration of history revisionists wasn’t the thing that really caught my attention in her speech at the conference. It was her detailed account of her family history, aimed at emphasizing her Iowa roots to this audience of Iowans. It was when Bachmann said she was a 7th generation Iowan, descended from Norwegians who immigrated to Iowa in the 1850s, that I started paying attention, simply because it would be mathematically impossible for a woman in her mid-fifties to be the 7th generation descended from people who immigrated in the 1850s unless each of their direct ancestors from every generation had had a child when they were still a child themselves. After catching this one obvious lie, I just couldn’t resist doing a little fact checking on the rest of Bachmann’s story. What I found was that Bachmann’s version of her family’s history was as much a work of fiction as anything found in one of David Barton’s books. She wants the people of Iowa to see her as one of them, so she simply changed her family history.

That’s right she just made it all up. Facts? She don’t need no stinking facts! She’s Michele Bachmann, ain’t she?

This woman is stupid and shameless, a winning combination in Republican presidential primaries. The people would cast a vote for this idiot will never even hear about this anyway, so what does she have to lose with a lil’ white lie?

Watch the video of Bachmann’s speech below. Read Rodda’s analysis of Michele Bachmann’s bogus claims for her family tree at OpEd News.

Posted by Richard Metzger
09:19 pm
Top Fox exec admits to lying on-air about Obama being a ‘socialist’
01:00 pm

Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon was caught bragging on tape during a conservative cruise ship retreat that he flat-out lied when he speculated on-air “about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism.” Sammon goes on to add that this allegation he personally—and *ahem* privately—found “rather far-fetched.” He calls it “mischievious” but wouldn’t an honest person call it what it is: LYING? He’s the VP of the top TV news outlet in America and he publicly admits to lying on-camera??? Where the fuck is James O’Keefe?

The funny sad thing is, I’m one of those people who desperately wanted Obama to be a socialist! Talk about your delusional and dashed hopes… Anyone who says Obama is a socialist, is either an idiot or like Bill Sammon, a lying liar. (And dig the subtext: Sammon is basically saying “Hey, I’m not dumb enough to actually believe the shit I say on TV”! Hilarious).

If an NPR executive or a CNN VP said something like this against a conservative politician, or even made a generic comment disparaging the right, they’d be forced out of their job within a matter of days. Sammon—AN ADMITTED LIAR, WHO LIED ON FOX NEWS, WHERE HE IS EMPLOYED—should be repudiated and fired by Fox immediately. There is no nuance to what he said. He admitted to lying. That is what he did. The man has no credibility professionally—as an admitted liar, as a supposed newsman—moving forward.

You can help put some heat on Sammon and Fox News by sharing this video on FB and Twitter.

PS: It’s amusing to read some of the comments about this video on YouTube and elsewhere. One teabagger wrote “You Media Matters-types should all be in jail!” What does someone think they mean when they make a statement like that in this kind of context, you know? Exposing liars is a bad thing, I guess, when someone happens to agree with the lies?

Posted by Richard Metzger
01:00 pm
No, you are not dreaming: Glenn Beck’s crew expose James O’Keefe as a lying sack of shit (again)

Okay, admittedly I’m not in the habit of applauding the actions—or integrity—of Glenn Beck or anything the guy’s even remotely connected with. Clearly to readers of this blog, I have a rather low opinion of the man. I think Glenn Beck is bad for America because he fills the heads of ignorant people who aren’t sophisticated enough to be able to evaluate an information source, and who know nothing whatsoever about history, with shit. He fills their heads with shit. If Glenn Beck were hit by lightning, I would start believing in a loving, interventionist God concerned with America’s future.... but I digress.

It’s just hard for me to say this, I guess, uh, what I’m trying to say, but there is something on Beck’s news website, The Blaze, that demands to be read if you want to understand exactly what is going on with the “undercover NPR Muslim sting” video the rightwing is all up in arms about. I’m not kidding, it’s essential reading and it’s smart stuff. How (or why) this news analysis was financially underwritten by Glenn Beck, I really can’t say, but what Scott Baker wrote there, examining if the videos were edited in a misleading fashion along with Blaze video producer Pam Key, and what Emily Esfahni Smith wrote there about whether or not the means justify the ideological ends, where LYING is involved, I can find little fault with.

However, because writing something nice about Glenn Beck is difficult for me, I think I’ll just take the easy way out and quote Ken Layne posting on Wonkette:

Whenever that James O’Keefe guy puts out another heavily edited video against some liberal bogeyman, both the White House and the Washington/New York media quickly fire everyone involved — because the only rational way to deal with claims made by partisan pranksters is to simply punish anyone targeted. That’s why Shirley Sherrod was immediately fired by the White House while the Lame Stream Media nodded approvingly and only Wonkette bothered to look at the allegedly damning video closely enough to see that Breitbart’s crew had carefully edited it to make Sherrod sound like a raving racist. Likewise, the firing of NPR executive Ron Schiller and his CEO boss was cheered by the liberal media and got solemn nods from Democrats in Washington. Only Glenn Beck’s reporters at his website, The Blaze, bothered to watch the unedited footage and note that the various bombshells in the video were taken out of context (the opinions of others made to look like the opinions of Schiller, for example) and that Schiller’s pro-Republican statements were (obviously) all cut out of the video released by O’Keefe.

Here’s the unedited section with Ron Schiller discussing the opinions of a senior Republican lawmaker and a major GOP donor. While Schiller seems to agree with the characterization of the Tea Party people at the end of this anecdote, it’s obvious he is quoting Republicans uneasy with the teabaggers here:

There’s a lot more of this on The Blaze: eight sections of raw video with written commentary by a video producer from the website. She finds numerous instances of editing to make Schiller sound like he’s replying to completely different statements (a bemused reaction to something about restaurant reservations is made to look like a response to implementing sharia law worldwide), and she also finds sections where the audio has clearly been switched from another part of the video, as well as the complete removal of many instances of Schiller and his colleague praising either Republicans or the Fox News audience.

There were pretty much only two news sources to pick this up from, Wonkette and The Blaze. What does it say about the rest of the media (no matter their supposed bias or supposed lack of one) who gave this story and that dweeby, sleazeball James O’Keefe a pass, AGAIN???

Hell, isn’t it obvious why Andrew Breitbart stayed away from this stinker? Yes it is, because James O’Keefe is a lying sack of shit and Breibart knows it. A sleazy non-entity who should be treated as one! Why wasn’t it Salon or The Nation or MSNBC who looked into this video, first? Shouldn’t the name James fucking O’Keefe have caused anyone to sit up an notice on the Left??? It took Glenn Beck’s crew to get the truth out? Yes, it did! I did wake up in Bizarro World again, didn’t I?

But the truth will out in the weirdest places sometimes. Good on Scott Baker, Blaze video producer Pam Key and Emily Esfahni Smith for having the courage and journalistic integrity to out one of their own, or perhaps they don’t count clown boy James O’Keefe as one of their own. You know, a real investigative journalist.

Baker’s conclusion:

Anyone looking at the edited version of the Project Veritas video would be concerned about the conduct and views expressed by the NPR representatives. But should we also be concerned about the deceptive nature of some of the video’s representations? Some will say no — the end justifies any means, even if unethical. Others may be bothered by these tactics and view similar projects with a greater degree of skepticism.

In our posting yesterday on the ethics of undercover journalism, we found a range of views. One interesting view is held by Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard. Barnes believes it is always wrong for a journalist to lie: “It‘s dishonest for anyone in journalism to pretend to be someone they’re not.”

But Barnes also believes this applies only to journalists. “This rule doesn’t apply to folks outside the profession,” he told The Blaze. Barnes views the O’Keefe production as a “political hit job and a quite clever and successful one at that.”

Barnes may not realize that O’Keefe describes his work as “investigative journalism,” and thus by Barnes definition — unethical.

And that is only on the issue of going undercover. But even if you are of the opinion, as I am, that undercover reporting is acceptable and ethical in very defined situations, it is another thing to approve of editing tactics that seem designed to intentionally lie or mislead about the material being presented.

As you might expect, the comments on THIS ONE are fascinating and to be fair, all over the place. That’s not typical of what I’ve seen on the boards there at all.

One of the posters (“CaptainKook”) even writes

“O’Keefe is, ultimately, lying to YOU when he publishes these faked edited and dishonest scam videos. WHY whould you willingly choose to believe a guy who YOU KNOW IS LYING TO YOU???”

This is a very good, penetrating question not just for far right conservatives who cheer the likes of James O’Keefe and Lila Rose on even knowing that they are basically liars who they happen to agree with, but to the left who let them get away with it just long enough for their version of heavily edited reality to become the de facto truth.

I mean James O’Keefe lying, right? Who’d have thunk it?

That the answer was Glenn Beck’s crew at The Blaze is as surprising to me as it probably is to you, too. But there it undeniably is.

You can’t explain that!

Via Wonkette/The Blaze

Posted by Richard Metzger
04:40 pm
“Fox News Lies!”: Correcting the record

Not that they have any credibility to begin with, but the Fox News coverage of Wisconsin has been particularly dishonest.


Posted by Richard Metzger
01:32 pm